The controversial report into paedophile allegations against Sir Edward Heath includes claims that he sexually assaulted boys as young as 11, it emerged last night.
Some of the most serious allegations, which include at least one rape and span his five decades as an MP, are linked to the sailing world. The former Prime Minister was a skilled yachtsman.
The report will say that seven of the allegations are sufficiently credible to justify questioning Sir Edward under caution were he alive today. One of the seven is said to involve the rape of an underage boy. Two were linked to his interest in sailing and allegedly occurred in Guernsey and Jersey.
It is thought that at least two of the other seven most serious allegations occurred in Wiltshire, where Sir Edward lived at Arundells, a mansion in Salisbury. It is not known if the alleged crimes happened there.
Two separate allegations are said to have been made by individuals in ‘prominent’ positions today. It is thought they were reporting the alleged abuse of others.
The Mail on Sunday has been told that at least one allegation relates to a boy younger than 11 but we have been unable to confirm this.
And according to one unconfirmed report, some claims refer to the music world – Heath was known as an orchestra conductor.
The astonishing disclosures come just four days before the findings of Operation Conifer – a two-year, £1.5 million investigation into Sir Edward – are made public by Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Mike Veale.
Mr Veale has faced fierce criticism from those who claim the allegations are fantasy.
Crucially, the inquiry does not prove Sir Edward’s guilt: its remit was limited to saying if the claims justified questioning him.
It is understood that the report rejects three of the main arguments used by Sir Edward’s friends to combat the allegations: that he would have few opportunities to commit such crimes because he couldn’t drive and never owned a car; that for most of his long career he had round-the-clock police protection; and that he was asexual.
The report says Sir Edward’s former police bodyguards said they did not watch him 24 hours a day and that for much of his political life he had no protection at all.
It says he could drive – though bizarrely there is no record of him having had a driving licence – and at various times owned a Rover 2000 and Vauxhall Viva.
And it says former aides said they were certain he did have consenting sexual relationships with adults.
Furthermore, the report says:
- 42 claims of child sex abuse include at least one rape of an underage boy. Most alleged victims were boys aged 11 to 15;
- Some were rent boys or from ‘low-life’ backgrounds. Others were boys he encountered elsewhere. Nine of the 42 claims were already on police files, in some cases for decades, but had been dismissed;
- Allegations date from the mid- 1950s when he was Chief Whip to the 1990s when he was in his 70s;
- Places where alleged crimes occurred are generally referred to as ‘public places’. At least one is said to have happened in a hotel. Two allegations were made by ‘senior professionals’. Mr Veale is expected to say that he went to great lengths to avoid errors made by other police investigations into historic sex abuse allegations, such as being taken in by ‘fantasists’.
One accuser is said to have made three bogus claims and faces being prosecuted.
Nor has Mr Veale shied away from examining his own force’s record. The inquiry was told by a retired Wiltshire policeman that plans to prosecute an individual in the 1990s were dropped when the person threatened to claim in court that they had procured rent boys for Sir Edward.
Mr Veale recruited eight of Britain’s most senior retired detectives to boost the 24-strong Wiltshire Police inquiry.
Mr Veale is expected to give a robust response to those who say it is pointless to investigate a dead man on the grounds that he can never be put in the dock, arguing that police have a special duty to probe alleged corruption in high places. Conifer was set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
No victims are referred to by name in the 100-page inquiry summary to honour a pledge of lifetime anonymity – although they are included in the full 350-page report given to the Home Office and the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
This newspaper has been told the report lists the allegations against Sir Edward, who died aged 89 in 2005, in five categories:
1. Seven ‘victims’ whose accounts would warrant interviewing him under caution, including the alleged rape of a boy.
2. Sixteen ‘vulnerable’ cases whose accounts fall just short of similar action due to an ‘element of undermining evidence’, including fading memory.
3. Ten cases including ‘third parties’ – complainants who said others had been abused by Sir Edward but not themselves. When police tracked down the alleged victims in these cases they gave the same account, but named other individuals as being the person who had been abused. It is thought that they wanted to expose Sir Edward without admitting he had assaulted them. It includes people who are married with children and want to put the matter behind them but felt compelled to act as well.
4. Six cases including one individual who is to be prosecuted over three bogus claims. Three others withdrew complaints.
5. Three complaints were made anonymously.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘If this report shows there were serious grounds for believing Edward Heath was involved in the sexual abuse of children, it will cause a huge shockwave and it could indicate that claims of an Establishment cover-up of paedophiles in Westminster have been true all along.
‘When Theresa May was asked about the inquiry last week she said it was vital that all child sex abuse allegations are investigated properly. She is right.
‘The public need to be reassured that no one is above the law whatever their position in public life. It is interesting that some MPs and parts of the media appear so keen to vilify Mr Veale without knowing what is in the Conifer report.’
Friends of Mr Veale say he is ready to face down an anticipated hostile reception to his report from Sir Edward’s defenders. One said: ‘Mike’s view is that although Sir Edward is dead and cannot be prosecuted, the nearer you are to power, the more important it is to investigate alleged wrongdoing.’
Ted Heath 'abused boys young as 11': Bombshell police report details 42 assault claims and one 'rape of underage male' with two cases linked to ex-premier's interest in sailing Simon Walters and Glen Owen and Brendan Carlin for The Mail on Sunday 1 October 2017
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